With the spreading of the zero waste way of living, many traditional, once widely used but now forgotten objects start to return to our everydays – including textile handkerchiefs. Slovakian Naďa Urbanová also saw the potential in the tiny piece of fabric, this is how Noa! came to life.
The story of the Slovakian brand launched only a few months ago started with a cold. Naďa Urbanová used a whole box of disposable paper tissues in a single day, this was when she decided that she needed to look for another, sustainable alternative to solve this problem. It was quite natural that she turned towards the textile handkerchiefs known from her childhood.
We all remember the drawer of our parents and grandparents, with the freshly washed and ironed cotton handkerchiefs lined up next to all the socks, tights and underwear – the story is anything but old, but in the past few decades we got used to choosing the easier path when it comes to keeping our noses clean.
Beyond the textile handkerchiefs inherited from our ancestors, however, the market does not really offer any contemporary design pieces – this is where Noa! could come into the picture, trying to satisfy the niche with their funnily worded products. The smart and funny signs written in Slovakian may primarily cause joy to our Slovakian friends, and this fact in itself marks Noa’s market – at least for now. Nevertheless we also had our fun when we translated some of the slogans printed on the handkerchiefs, and at the same time we also realized who could feel addressed by the funny hankies.
For example, we’d recommend the piece decorated with books for literature fans: here the sign „Kýcha a predsudok”means “Sneeze and prejudice” (the title of Jane Austen’s novel is by the way: „Pýcha a predsudok” in Slovakian). The „Idem po zelenej” handkerchief displays the symbols related to hiking in a geometric manner (summit, compass, pine tree, tent), and translates into something like this: “I go out into the green”, which does not only allude to nature, but well, also to nasal discharge.
Of course blowing our nose is not the only thing we can use Noa’s handkerchiefs for: instead of the wipes forming an integral part of every mother’s bag, we can opt for the hanky decorated with a unicorn, birthday cake and melting ice cream („Na soplík aj na iné, sú vreckovky mamine”, that is „For wiping nasal discharge and everything else, use mommy’s handkerchief”). Tomáš Kučírek and Martin Kovarík contributed to creating the funny texts, the rhymed poems were written by Katka Makara, and the graphics were made by Katarína Hutníková.
In addition to the versions printed with signs, one can also find handkerchiefs designed specifically for children, with animal figures, in Noa’s online store. In addition to all this, the fans of minimalism won’t be disappointed either: their repertoire also includes neutral toned textile handkerchiefs made of 100% cotton for those who’d rather stay out of the spotlight. We shouldn’t worry about storing our hankies, either: we can also purchase a small, drawstring textile pouch for the selected item.
Naďa, who previously worked on the field of PR and communication does not manage the everydays of the brand on her own. Her friend, Mary helps her, who takes care of the administrative and technical tasks related to Noa as a full-time executive of an international corporation, while Naďa keeps contact with suppliers and subcontractors, and is also in charge of operation.
Part of the handkerchiefs is manufactured in a workshop in Bratislava, while the colorful versions are printed in Germany. They wanted to collaborate with Slovakian and Czech manufacturers solely, however, they didn’t find an appropriate partner who could provide the required quality in said countries.
Thus they opted for the German manufacturer with a heavy heart, but they do everything they can with local subcontractors and sewing shops, to support them – this is more important to them than higher profit (the price of Noa’s hankies range between EUR 4-7).